The Koch cartel: their reach, their reactionary agenda, and their record.

AuthorGraves, Lisa
PositionDavid and Charles Koch of Koch Industries Inc. - Cover story

You'd have to spend $113.4 million a day, every day for an entire year, to spend down the net worth of just one of the infamous Koch brothers, Charles and David.

Just one half hour at that rate is more than most Americans make in an entire lifetime of work.

For those who consider themselves exceptionally talented, lucky, or good looking, $113 million is more in a day than movie star Leonardo DiCaprio made as the highest paid Hollywood actor last year.

With that amount, you could buy 4,500 Ford F-150 pick-up trucks every day, but where would you park them?

Or with two or three days pay at that rate, you could try to buy the White House.

And the majority in Congress.

And, to cover all your bases, buy access to judges by subsidizing exclusive trips to fancy resorts to persuade them of your point of view.

But that wouldn't even make a dent in your net worth, if you were a Koch.

Fortunately for the Koch brothers, it costs far less to underwrite the remaking of our political and judicial system to reflect their deeply distorted view of America than to spend even a week of their combined net worth of $82.8 billion.

Unfortunately, political propaganda is a relatively cheap commodity--far cheaper than the oil and gas, paper and plastics, and fertilizer and futures that their company, Koch Industries, sells.

Last year, its estimated revenues were $115,000,000,000.

That's more revenue than many of the "Too Big to Fail" firms made, such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or Goldman Sachs. Only Exxon and a few other global firms made more money.

One hundred and fifteen billion dollars is more than the annual sales of all the Pepsi and Coke products in every grocery store, fast food joint, restaurant, and bar worldwide.

Together, Charles and David own more than 80 percent of the stock in their global megacorporation, which is the second richest privately held company in the United States.

That's why they're currently tied for sixth place among the richest people on our entire planet.

Five other guys on this globe have accumulated more than them, but combining the Kochs' wealth would make them co-kings, the very richest, perhaps, in the history of the world. Plus, unlike Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who each have more, Charles and David are a two-headed monster in their vast business, political, and ideological ambitions.

Forget the 1 percent.

The Koch brothers are the .00000002 percent. That's seven zeroes. Their wealth is almost unimaginable. Nearly everyone else living today is the 99.99999998 percent.

And, as it turns out, influencing politicians and judges doesn't cost that much when you're a multibillionaire. It costs about as much to personally fuel the core groups in their rightwing infrastructure for a year as it costs David Koch to donate an entire building or two, like an opulent theater to support the performing arts.

In giant letters, David Koch's name is engraved above the "New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera." If we're not careful, his name and his brother's will be engraved in larger lettering above the United States of America, although it would be a very different version of our country.

What Is the Matter with Kansas?

"It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process," Charles Koch wrote in The Wall Street Journal this spring.

That's a lie.

His engagement in the political process was not born yesterday or even ten years ago.

In 1961, at the age of twenty-six, Charles moved home to Wichita, Kansas, to work for Rock Island Oil and Refining Company, which was led by his father, Fred Koch, who was on the national council of the John Birch Society. Charles subsequently opened a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita with a friend of his father, Bob Love, the owner of the Love Box Company in Wichita, according to Dan Schulman's Sons of Wichita.

The John Birch Society's "American Opinion Bookstores" were stocked with material opposing the civil rights movement.

Birchers had put up billboards in Kansas and elsewhere calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who had ordered the desegregation of the public schools in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

There's no indication that Fred or Charles objected to the Birch campaign to impeach Warren.

There is no indication they objected when it ran ads in Dallas in 1963 with President John F. Kennedy's head depicted like two mug shot photos, with the word "Treason" below, shortly before the assassination of the President ...

Or when it opposed the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, based on the Bircher claim that the movement was created as a forty-year front for the communists.

Or when it supported billboards calling Martin Luther King a communist.

None of these things was cited by Charles Koch and Bob Love in their resignation from the John Birch Society in 1968, according to correspondence with Robert Welch, who had...

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